So I’ve be blogging for a few months now and it has indeed been a lot of fun. I spent the last couple of days thinking about what kind of posts have gotten some of the best responses.
Posts that have a story associated with them. Can be small snippet of a story of lengthy piece. But it seems those with a genealogy bent to their personality love a good or even passable story.
Posts that talk about how I’ve done it wrong. Confessing one’s genealogical sins seems hard at first, but it seems to have brought out some camaraderie. Let’s face it — none of us are perfect. And we all started as really naive and clueless family historians. Who knew a birth record could be wrong? Who knew that vital records don’t exist for everyone and are not readily available? Who knew those stories about Indian princesses are just stories and not facts? But figuring this out and then learning how to fix our errors? That is one of the joys of genealogy. We never stop learning. I enjoy discussing the learning process as much I enjoy discussing my ancestors.
Posts about the forgotten. This was and still is the main goal of my blog. I don’t want my ancestors, good, bad or ugly to be forgotten. They have made me who I am. And remembering those who have left no one behind, such as my maiden aunts and bachelors uncles, seemed to have struck a real chord with many.
So I think I’m on the right path. It’s OK not to be perfect. Which is good, because that is not in my DNA. And sharing our mistakes maybe can make it easier for others. Or at least we can share in our “can you believe I did that?”
And telling the stories. Making the records come to life. That is the fun and addictive part, isn’t it?
I am prepping for my first CG attempt, which I hope to start sometime this year. One of the requirements is to write Narrative Lineage. I’m going to practice writing one for my paternal paternal line.
Today, I’m going to write some informative paragraphs and a intro and end. I’m quite sure I’ll rewrite them but it’s time to start. I’ve got a lot more detail to fill in the middle here. but what I am realizing is how much of this is what I know I do not have sources. I need my grandfather’s birth certificate and marriage certificate, at the very least
So here goes.
My paternal grandfather, Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE, was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia.1 He was the seventh of eight children born to Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE and Laura Cecile DONALD. 2 His father was born at the end of the Civil War in 1865 3; his mother was the daughter of veteran of the Stonewall Brigade.4 Lexington, his hometown, was the burial place of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E Lee. He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.
Over his lifetime he lived through WWI and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement and 9/11. He raised 4 children and lived to see all 8 of his grandchildren. He had 12 great grandchildren, but he died in 2003 before most of them were born.
He died on November 21, 2003 at the age of 89 in Huddleston, Bedford, Virginia. His youngest son, Paul, was with him when he died. He was buried next to his wife, Ann Irene FEAZELL who had died twenty years earlier. 5
1. Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Jul 2012), entry for Gilbert M Gillespie, SS no. 224-03-0395.
2. I need my grandfather’s birth certificate to document this.
3. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie (1865 – 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Wyatt Paul Gillespie and his wife Laura Cecile Donald.
4. This is actually a complicated footnote; leaving for later.
5. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Gilbert McClung Gillespie (1914 – 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56069420, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Gilbert McClung and his wife Ann Irene Feazell.
Every generation has their own maiden aunts and bachelor uncles who leave behind no children and often there is no one left to tell their story. They truly become forgotten stories. I will devote Sunday to those Aunts and Uncles.
Minnie Maude Gillespie was the oldest child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald and the oldest sister of my grandfather Gilbert M Gillespie. She was born on January 29th 1897 and died at the age of 61 on April 5th, 1958. She was outlived by her seven brothers and sisters and her mother.
This is the only picture I have of Minnie. Hopefully one of my cousins can supply me with a better one someday. Minnie is sitting on the right on the first row.
She suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis most of her life. Working at Adair-Hutton’s dry goods store as a clerk was such a struggle having to stand all day. My father remembered her coming home to the house on 108 Houston Street and have to soak her feet.
She was born in Lexington, Virgina, and moved with her parents to 108 Houston Street were she lived the rest of her life. She finished 4 years of high school. She was a member of the Trinity Methodist Church.
She was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery which more or less in the backyard of her home. She is buried near her parents, many of her sisters and brothers and other generations of the family.
I have two obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie. And I am truly sad I don’t more about her.
1. Family of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, digital image ca. 1925, photocopy privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Minnie Maude is in the lower right corner; Minnie would have been around 28 years old. My father, Gilbert Gillespie, had the original at one time, current location is unknown.
2. The City Directory of Lexington, Virgina (A.D. Smith, Inc., 1922), 80; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jul 2012)
3. “Ms. Minnie M Gillespie”, undated clipping, ca. 1958, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Inherited from my father Gilbert Gillespie.
I was asked a couple of days ago, “Why are city directories interesting?” It is a fair question. You find them, you attach them to your online tree or software program, and then you have a list of them. A list of them? Dreadfully boring .
This is not interesting. It doesn’t tell me anything about the man and his life.
In 1938 and 1939, Howard, 18, was living with his parents, James Austin TURNER and Sudie Sarah HAMRICK TURNER, at 316 E Morehead, Charlotte, NC. Howard’s brother James Austin Jr., was living around the corner with his wife Annie Lineriux BOONE TURNER; both James Sr. and Jr. were salesman. Ira and Pearl TURNER, Howard’s aunt and uncle lived not far from them at 1826 E 4th; Ira owns Turner Trading Company.
In 1938, Howard is a student and in 1939 we see that Howard begins his career as a Radio Announcer.1
On May 25, 1940 Howard marries Jennie Elizabeth PAYNE in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.2
He disappears from the City Directories in until 1943, where he is living with Jennie in Asheville, North Carolina. Howard is a Radio Announcer for WISE Broadcasting as well as the manager of a Welding Engineering School where both his father, James, and his wife, Jennie, are working. 3 Their first child, a daughter is born in 1943.4
From 1944 to 1950, Howard and Jennie are back in Charlotte, and Howard is working for WBT, a major radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are living at 522 Hawthorne Lane in an apartment. Their second child, a son is born in 1944.5
In 1951, it appears the couple has separated. Howard is living with Lois Turner at 323 E Blvd in Charlotte and is now working for Turner’s. Jennie is living at 523 Hawthorne Lane and is working as a nurse at the Presbyterian Hospital.6
Except for the marriage and births, all the detail comes from the City Directories. It’s all about the details and making stories a little less forgotten.
1. Hill’s Charlotte (Mecklenburg County, N. C. ) City Directory(Richmond, VA, Hill Directory CO., Inc., 1938), 661 ; also subsequent year by the same title: 1939 (666); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jun 2012), Howard Turner.
2. “North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F884-NJG : accessed 22 June 2012), Howard Arthur Turner, 1940.
3.Hill’s Asheville (Buncombe County, N. C. ) City Directory (1943), 495.
4. Buncombe County, North Carolina, General Index to Births, North Carolina Birth Indexes, vol 31, Raleigh, North Carolina State Archives, microfilm NCVR_B_C013_66003, page 253, Katharine Ann Turner; digital images, “North Carolina, Birth and Death Indexes, 1800-2000, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com :accessed 22 Jun 2012).
5. Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, North Carolina Birth Indexes, vol 102, , microfilm NCVR_B_C065_66004, page 164, Thomas Richard Turner.
6. Hill’s Charlotte (Mecklenburg County, N. C. ) City Directory (1944) 754, (1945) 603,(1947) 723, (1948) 732, .
I never knew my maternal grandfather, Howard Arthur Turner, as I lost contact with my mother and her side of the family when I was very young. One day I discovered his obituary on GenealogyBank.com and became intrigued with knowing more about him.
From his obituary I learned he died on June 26, 1992 and that he was survived by his wife Carol; son Tom Turner; daughter, Mrs. Kathy Currier; brothers, James Turner Jr., Michael Turner; two stepdaughters; two grandchildren; nephews and nieces. 1
That would be the first piece of information that is wrong. He was survived by at least 4 grandchildren. My sister and I are the daughters of Kathy Currier by a previous marriage.
When reading obituaries, family histories, newspapers, wills and other documents we use to understand genealogy it is important to remember details are often presented to fit current realities. Given that my sister and I had not had contact with the man since we were very young and that we haven’t had any contact with the family for well over 30 years, it is understandable. And a different story for a different day.
The paragraphs that I find the most intriguing from the obituary are:
A radio newscaster at WBT (1110 AM) in the early 1940s, Mr. Turner also taught David Brinkley, now host of the Sunday news Program “This Week With David Brinkley,” who was a UPI news reporter at the Charlotte Station, how to announce on the radio – or so the story goes, says Mr. Turner’s son, Tom.
“My dad would like to tell us about how he taught David Brinkley how to announce on the radio. I don’t know if it’s absolutely true, but he sure liked to tell the story,” said Tom Turner, now president of his father’s supply company. From 1941 to 1946, Mr. Turner paired with Grady Cole, for whom the Grady Cole Center on Kings Drive is named, to produce morning news reports on WBT.”2
There is a story there. How much of it is true? I know there are already missing pieces in this brief summary of his life. One thing I do know, the story is probably interesting. Tomorrow I’ll start trying to unravel it.
1. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, June 28, 1992; digital images, Genealogybank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 5 April 2009), Newspaper Obituaries Collection.
2. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte Observer, June 28, 1992.
Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE was born at the end of the Civil War; his wife to be, Laura Cecile DONALD was born 11 years later. He grew up during Reconstruction and they lived their married life in Lexington, Virginia in the Jim Crow south. In 1907, for $400, they bought a home at 108 Houston Street from which you could see Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and they were buried there, Wyatt in 1941 and Laura in 1964.
Wyatt was 28, single, born in Amherst County, Virginia, son of Jerry (Jeremiah) and Mary E GILLESPIE. (Jeremiah and Mary E were first cousins. My family tree twists twice. Don’t judge. 1)
Laura was 17, single, born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth WALLACE.2
Two people, single, get married and lived, happily or some variation of that, ever after. But, and isn’t there always a but, those who are truly experienced in the art of genealogy know to do an exhaustive search to find the entire story. Wyatt actually has two marriage licenses. One was used, one was not.
The mystery of Lillian M Hatcher
On January 16, 1893, in Buena Vista, Virginia which is an independent city in Virginia right outside of Lexington, Wyatt and Lillian M Hatcher, ages 27 and 21, respectively, he born in Amherst Co, she born in Bedford Co., applied for a marriage license. It is marked as being returned on January 16, 1893. But way over there on the right hand side of the page, it states “Returned not used.” Why? I will probably never know.3
Lillian gets married on November 7, 1898 in Bedford County, Virginia to Paul G Tankersley who was a widower. 4 So there was no tragic accident that prevented Lillian from marrying Wyatt. Why they didn’t marry is probably a mystery for the ages.
But what I do know is this, if Wyatt had married Lillian, he wouldn’t have married Laura. And then there would not have been a Gilbert Gillespie to marry Ann Feazell and my father would not have been born. And I would not be.
So whatever happened, I have to say I’m glad it did. And now we know another forgotten story.
1. Eva Gillespie, daughter of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, deceased, interview by Gilbert Gillespie, 2000; notes privately held by Anne Gillespie [address withheld], California, 2009.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
3. Buena Vista, Virginia, Register of Marriages (1939), p. 6-A (penned), Wyatt P Gillespie; “Marriage register v. 1-2 1854-1909”, FHL, microfilm 30597.
4. “Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRJ1-GG4 : accessed 14 June 2012), Lillie Maude Hatcher, 1898.
When we looked at Jennie Elizabeth Payne in the 1930 census, we were left with the question, why was Jennie, 22, was living on a farm in Crowder Mountain, North Carolina with 4 brothers and 3 sisters? The oldest brother, Floyd, owned the farm which appeared to be family run. 1 The story we find is a sad one.
Let’s step back to the year 1920. Jennie is 12, and living with her parents, James, 37, and Georgie, 36, Payne. James owned his farm with a mortgage on Kings Mountain Road in Crowder Mountain, North Carolina. He lived there with his wife, 3 daughters, Lela, Jennie and Daisy and 4 sons, Boyce, Floyd, Thomas and Robert. His sons and oldest daughter worked the farm.2 Later that year, James and Georgie added another daughter to the family. In 1922, their fifth son Otto is born.3
But December 27, 1922 found James Payne suffering from influenza and pneumonia and on January 5, 1923 he died leaving his wife and 9 children.4 Five years later, tragedy strikes the family again. In November 1927 Georgie was suffering from pneumonia and on February 3, 1928 she also died.5
And in 1930, the 8 of the brothers and sisters are living together on the family farm without their parents.
The story is not the records, the story comes from the records.
1. 1930 U.S. census, Gaston County, North Carolina, population schedule, Crowder Mountain Township, p. 133 (stamped), enumeration district(ED) 9, sheet 18A, dwelling 280, family 314, Jennie E Payne; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 May 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1691.
2. 1920 U.S. census, Gaston County, North Carolina, population schedule, Crowder Mountain Township, pp. 65-66 (stamped), enumeration district(ED) 75, sheet 6B-7A, dwelling 97, family 106, Jennie E Payne; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jun 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1299.
3. 1930 U.S. census, Gaston Co., North Carolina, pop. sch., p. 133 (stamped), dwelling 280, family 314, Jennie E Payne.
4. North Carolina, State Board of Health, death certificate #421 (stamped) (1923), James R Payne, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Raleigh; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jun 2012); citing Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297.
5. North Carolina, State Board of Health, death certificate #397 (stamped) (1928), Georgie E Payne, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Raleigh; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jun 2012); citing Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297.